Saturday, December 04, 2004


Here are the electrics…

There are only 2 things left! The floor guy is scheduled for Dec 13th, and Mike will come back sometime after that to caulk the trim. After that, it’s all ours!


We’re coming close to finishing the room! This first set of pictures is the room after paint. The set below is of the room after trim. And coming soon… The room after electricity!

Here’s the trim:

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The X-Mas Spirit

We hung Claudia and Carsten’s lights on our porch this afternoon. It looks really nice at night, although we do stand out on our block a bit. Our nextdoor neighbors have lights hung, but they aren’t on yet.

Finishing Up

We’re starting in one the painting and hope to be done by the end of Thanksgiving break. That means that Mike can come in to do the trim sometime next week, and we should be able to move back in shortly thereafter!

These are pics of the priming process. I’ll post pics of the painting as it happens.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Further proof that the universe is out of wack...

The eagles are loosing 27 to 3 in the 4th quarter to the freakin’ Pittsburgh Steelers!

And, the Daily Mirror - one of the worst of the British Tabloids - is actually calling (quite correctly) the American people dumb. It’s akin to being called an idiot by a member of Jerry Springer’s audience! [I actually saw a comment on the Daily Mirror web site saying ‘those ‘dumb’ Americans are the same who would have supported the US intervention in WWII.’ Notice the unbelievable ignorance on display here: the social conservative wing of the Republican party (i.e. Buchanan) has argued against that intervention, Lindbergh - whose isolationist policies would have had us making non-aggression pacts with Hitler - was proposed as a candidate in 1940, and Henry Ford is likely the originator (there is no question that he is responsible for the wide distribution – the only question is whether he wrote them or not) of the anti-Semitic tract “The protocols of the Elders of Zion”. The British wonder how we can be so dumb? This guy just illustrated the point.]

What’s next? Flying pigs? Idiots in power? Oh wait, we’ve already got the latter. And considering that Bush was a pilot when he decided to show up at the National guard, we’ve had the former for that past 30 years!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Here's the thing:

As a ‘life’-long liberal / progressive (I mean, as long as I have had a political conscience), I have always believed that the Republicans couldn’t win in a fair fight. I’m not alone in this: most liberals believe that the Republicans rely on trickery, low voter turnout, apathy, disenfranchisement of minorities and the Supreme Court to win elections and maintain their grip on power. If only, we’d all say, if only we could get the youth to turn out, or get the African-American community to the polls, then we’d dominate American politics.

Well, it’s false. We know that now.

The mainstream liberal wisdom seems to be that Democrats need to embrace ‘moral values’, and return to rhetoric highlighting social and economic justice as moral imperatives. Robert Reich (on ATC last night) and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post (today’s column) have made just that claim. I say bullshit. The phrase ‘moral values’ is clearly a euphemism of anti-gay hate and anti-abortion single-issue voting.

In case you doubt my characterization, consider the ‘moral values’ that are not included in the republican calculus: lying, cheating, loyalty (outing a CIA agent), rushing to war, failing to plan for peace, protecting the citizens caught in the chaos after invasion, the death penalty, the lack of adequate healthcare, tax cuts for the wealthy, reduction in social services, the paternalistic approach to women’s ability to make their own moral decisions, proportionate punishment for drug offenders… The list goes on and on. Make no mistake about it: the term ‘Moral values’ refers to what we do in our bedrooms and nothing else.

Moreover, we must face the fact that a majority of American people - in what must be considered the fairest of fights - want the government involved in what we do in our bedrooms. The left will get nowhere pointing out that ‘moral values’ includes the progressive agenda, nor will they get anywhere pointing out the immorality of making moral decisions for others.

To try to convert the evangelicals into leftist thinking (as Reich and Dionne advocate) simply won’t work. Evangelical culture, while it is diverse, shares one common thread: a commitment to the literal interpretation of the Bible. And that commitment entails two things: (1) all evidence can be denied if it contradicts the Bible and (2) all morality flows from the bible. The second of these, in turn, entails that (3) individuals have no right to make moral decisions on their own.

People, according to evangelicals, are not autonomous moral agents. The only autonomous moral agent is Jesus. When faced with a moral dilemma, the rest of us need only ask ‘what would Jesus do?’ to decide the whether a particular action is permissible, obligatory or impermissible. This is, as you might expect, why they believe women incapable of making their own moral choices - they believe all humans incapable of choosing morally. Thus, to argue with an evangelical about whether an action is permissible or impermissible is to argue with a squirrel about whether a nut is a seed or a vegetable - not only is there no possible evidence you can present that will change their minds, but they are, themselves, incapable of classifying actions according to that schema. They believe themselves morally impotent.

Again, if you doubt my characterization, consider what happens when Evangelicals get caught acting immorally. When Jim Baker cheated on Tammy Fay, it was the Devil’s fault. Blaming one’s sins on either the tempter (more often, the temptress) or the Devil absolves oneself from the responsibility entailed by one’s actions. And if one is not responsible for actions, neither praise nor blame can be attributed. Pat Robertson recently said that it doesn’t matter what Bush does - God will bless him either way. And notice that all those athletes who ‘give God the glory’ after a victory do so precisely because they believe that they deserve no credit for their performance - they have no responsibility for the victory. If they want to take credit for a victory, they would have to take the blame for sinning. The don’t want the latter, so they can’t have the former. Evangelicals just don’t believe that they have moral agency.

We liberals and progressives must not get sucked into debates about the permissibility or impermissibility of actions. It is a fruitless enterprise. We should be fighting against the idea of moral impotence itself. We should be fighting to ensure all people’s - especially women’s - status as autonomous moral persons. And we must insist that people take responsibility for their actions throughout society - whether it be Kenneth Lay or President Bush, if you want credit for building a company or winning a war, you must take responsibility for destroying pension plans or killing 100K Iraqis. Not your company, or God, or your advisors. You. Personally.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This is the shit:

A colleague of mine at McDaniel sent me this link to an article in the Guardian. I think this guy pretty much has it figured out. Now, just think: if one (or more) of the justices die, we’ll have to live with under these people for the next half century or so. That is, if they don’t destroy the world before that.,14259,1331359,00.html

It's just sooooooo bad

If one thing is clear from the elections last night it is this: the US electorate does not want a democracy. They want a theocracy. You can be an insane, incompetent lunatic and get elected if you have an endorsement from the right preacher. Evidence, rationality, thinking - none of it matters anymore. The only thing that matters is the that you’re an evangelical.

The Democrats put forward the best candidate, and he made the best case he could. And you know what? None of it mattered. We lost - we got trounced - by those who claim to believe in ‘moral values’. What the f***? They voted en masse for a proven liar and cheat, so what the hell does ‘moral values’ mean? We all know: abortion and homosexuality.

Bob Kerrey said last night that the American people have to decide if they *really* want a society in which Doctors are arrested. I will add the others that Kerrey didn’t say: an America in which women who have been raped are chained up so that they carry pregnancies to term, and gays and lesbians forcibly restrained from conjugating. We now have the answer. Yes. The American people really do want the government to be in the business of regulating sex. And they really do want the government to be a protestant, evangelical theocracy. Evidence is irrelevant! Throw out the constitution! Throw out liberty! Bring in the jackbooted thugs! Anyone who thinks differently must be ‘converted’!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

That odd lump:

I’ve decided to add my voice to the ever-growing chorus of those pointing out that Bush had a receiver-shaped lump on his back in debate 1. I’m digitizing these for use in my critical thinking class anyway, so here’s the clip:

The Lump MPG Format, 0.6M

The real question, however, is what are the penalties for cheating in a Presidential debate? Anyone who is planning to vote for Bush is doing so with the full knowledge that he’s a lying cheat - so what do they care if he lied and cheated at the debate? Can he be disqualified?

What’s the difference - fundamentally - between parroting Karl Rove simultaneously and parroting Karl Rove via memory? If the difference is merely temporal, why should we care? I mean, we all know that the guy is an idiot who merely (barely) reads the teleprompter anyway. So what’s the difference here? It seems like a matter of scale - not a matter of kind - and therefore, not something that we should be (a) shocked about or (b) angry about. It’s laughable, yes. But all of Bush’s policies are laughable. That is, if the situation weren’t so serious.

Here’s a clip of the bit of the debate where Bush said to no one “Let me finish”

Sunday, September 26, 2004

We start ‘em early ’round these parts.

Yes, froggy can change the channel - but getting him or her to settle on one and quit flipping? That’s a different story.

Bedroom update

The hurricanes that have come through have proved advantageous for us! When it rains, Mike can’t work on any of his projects - that is, except ours! We’ve got the bedroom laid out, the insulation in, and the drywall hung. Here are the pics:

This is the hallway above the stairs. Notice the light! We can now turn the light on and off from both the top and the bottom of the stairs! Woo Hoo! That means, of course, that we are no longer in violation of code.

This is how the door layout turned out. We still have the original frame, and will be putting it back in place.

From inside, in much the same location as the previous pictures. The large structure is our new closet, which will be fantastic.

When we started ripping stuff out, we discovered two closets that had been closed up on the far (shared) wall. We removed one, creating an enclave, but we left the smaller, under-the-stairs closet.

We decided against lifting the ceiling to the rafters. BUT, we did decide to put a few spot, recessed lights into the new ceiling.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Construction Update

Here are the latest pics:

The Bathroom

These pretty much complete the downstairs bathroom. We still want to replace the shower, but it’s not going to happen without major structural improvements. We have to fix some of the exterior in this area next year, so we’ll probably do it then.

The Beam

The beam is as it will be. (Look at that - I could be the Pope!) We’re planning on putting up one of those fake tin ceilings on the plywood. It will, ultimately, be quite beautiful. McDaniel has a number of tin ceilings, inspiring our choice. It will also help further define this area as a hallway.

A modest proposal

Since most of the problems in our country are currently being caused by the radical evangelicals, here is a modest proposal to take back the US from these fascists:

Given that (a) they don’t really accept the constitution (they deny the separation of church and state), (b) they deny the freedom of religion to others (their uniting ideology is proselytizing) © that there is no arguing with them (the only evidence on any issue that they will accept is true is that from the Bible (recall that Pat Robertson denies global warming, the promotion of ‘creation science’ is one of their hallmarks, and they believe Bush is an honest man - all in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary)), and (d) most of them come from Texas, I propose the following solution:

Cede Texas to Bush as a Christian homeland.

Texans have never really believed that they were a part of the Union anyway, so it’s a perfect solution! Of course, we’d have to give most of Southern Texas to Mexico, in order to protect the native (predominately Catholic) Spanish-speaking population from the harassment that is inevitable when living with people who believe that you follow the anti-Christ.

Note also that Texas takes much more from the Government’s coffers than they add and that we don’t really need their oil - after all, the main reason why we are so oil-dependent is because the oil companies block investment in alternative energies. Get rid of their influence, and we get rid of the major obstacle to energy independence. I’m also sure that Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC will be so thrilled that we’ve ‘contained’ Bush that they’ll give us a sweet-heart deal for a while.

Of course, we have to expect some difficulties during the period of partition - all those people moving from Grand Rapids to Waco will no doubt cause hardship. But if we buckle down and really commit to making this world a better place, we too can finally live in a democracy!

Friday, September 17, 2004

OK, OK, I know...

That I haven’t posted in like 3 weeks. Classes started, man, back off! Anyway, I’m trying to get back into the flow, and I saw this in the Washington Post today and just couldn’t resist. I’m taking suggestions for the best caption. So far, my personal favorite is:

"Are you sure you’re not an enemy combatant?"

But there’s also the perennial favorite:

"Have you seen any records of my service in the national guard?"

or, prehaps:

"Admit it - you’re the person who gave those forged documents to Dan Rather?"

or, even:

"Is that Osama Bin Laden stuck in your teeth?"

Monday, August 30, 2004

Cat Pee!

Many of the corners downstairs smeel of cat pee: especially when it’s hot and humid. We just got this cool bacteria stuff that is supposed to eat the pee. We’ll see if it works.

Oh, and at the risk of making you all think I’m becoming obsessed with the waste products of the neighborhood’s resident pet population, I offer you this documentation of one of our more recent ‘visitors’: Not for the faint of stomach.

Friday, July 30, 2004


Now that we removed the wall on the top of the stairs, and the beam is carrying the load of the ceiling, we can begin planning the second main project: removing the recently added wall (on the left of the picture) putting it back to an open staircase with a banister.

Notice how wide the white piece of floor is in this picture. Under this, there are 2 walls: a new one and an original one. The new one is wall on the left of the stairs that you see here. The old wall is about 6 inches to the left of that. We checked in Mrs Reese’s house next door, and this 6 inches is open all the way to the ceiling. The banister that runs up the left side of the staircase turns 180 degrees at the top, and then runs the width of the house enclosing the open 6 inches. I know, it’s hard to explain. Maybe I can get a picture.

Sag (update 6)

It just occurred to me that I haven’t been putting any pictures of the ‘underside’ of the sag online. So here are a few:

We were very worried about cracks in the walls during the jacking. Luckily, this didn’t happen. But unluckily, this huge chunk fell out the the living room ceiling. While that kind of sucks, it does help refine our plans for the living room. The plaster is ugly anyway, right. We’re currently thinking about putting in aone of those fake tin drop ceilings, or one of those manufactured historic ‘wood’ beveled ceilings. Both of these would bring the ceiling down a bit and further define the part to the right of the beam as a hallway.

Sag (update 5)

Help, parts of my house are rapidly disappearing!

Having removed the door, we have the option of putting it back in where ever we want. This is what we came up with. This arrangement gives us a 28 inch deep closet in the master bedroom, and the option for another (in place of the stairs to the attic, once that is removed and the ceiling put up to the cathedral style - the wall point you see on the left of this picture is the start of the stairs to the attic.)

Sag (update 4)

At this point, the sag was almost fixed:

You can still see a little bow in the floor, but it is much less than the 4.5 inches it was before.

Notice that the rest of that wall (at the top of the stairs) is now missing!

You’ll notice that the radiator didn’t move as much as I would have liked, but the top point is about and inch closer to the outer wall than it was before.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sag (update 3)

The floor came up 3.5 of the 4.5 inches easily. Then it stopped. The problem, it seems, was this door, which, by the time you read this, will be no more. The door frame was tied into the attic stairs and the closet and everything else, and thereby resisted the movement of the floor. Of course, this configuration enabled it to resist gravity as well, which is why the sag wasn’t as bad on that side of the room. Ironic, isn’t it?


Garage (update 2)

Complete around 3:15 Wed, July 28.

Sag (update 2)

I’m posting pictures as quickly as I can, but things are hot around here! The beam is in, and being raised. Here are some pictures of it in place, before any lifting occured:

Beam seen from the hallway to the kitchen and dining room.

Close up of the beam where it meets the wall by the stairs. Note that the beam is not level!

The entire span, as seen from the stairs.